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"To The Oneder"
2 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Terrence Malick is a filmmaker who has provided me with some of the most stunning and transporting moments that I have ever experienced in a movie theater, both as a critic and as an ordinary audience member. “Badlands” (1973), loosely inspired by the 1958 killing spree of Charles Starkweather, remains one of the most powerful and unforgettable debuts from any director and his 1978 followup “Days of Heaven” found him taking a standard narrative of love, jealousy and betrayal and transforming it into a stunning, one-of-a-kind example of pure visual poetry. After taking a 20-year sabbatical from the world of film that helped to solidify his legend, he returned with his cinematic genius undiminished with a sprawling adaptation of James Jones’ World War II novel “The Thin Red Line” (1998) and “The New World” (2005), his myth-deflating take on the story of Pocahontas and her relationship with the newcomers who settled her lands and helped to destroy her people while making her in a historical symbol in the process before culminating with “The Tree of Life” (2011), an astonishing and deeply personal work in which he combined elements taken from his own life growing up in Texas in the 1950s, themes that had been exploring throughout his entire career (ranging from parent-child conflicts to man’s continued search for grace and deliverance in a world where such things seem to have passed us by) and moments of pure audacity (such as taking a break in the early going to literally travel back to the beginning of time to bear witness to the creation of the universe up to the period when dinosaurs roamed the land) into a work that is not only Malick’s masterpiece to date but one of the finest films to emerge in this new century." (more)
"Walter Hill...why?"
2 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Watching "Another 48 HRS" on TV one afternoon with the sound off, for some reason, I found myself drawn into the movement, the colors, the cinema. That movie is a lazy, stupid sequel, certainly not the finest hour of its director, Walter Hill. But Hill is a visual samurai, and for a few minutes I just let myself coast on the smooth, feral images." (more)
"Good question."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "Once upon a time, an American filmmaker in Belgium happened across a group of other Americans." (more)
"A superhero flick for those who hate superhero flicks."
4 stars
Rob Gonsalves says... "The grimly realistic Roman superhero drama "They Call Me Jeeg," which swept the Italian equivalent of the Oscars last year and will soon open in America, doesn’t put any particular emphasis on its feats of power and heroism." (more)
"Something Is Not Quite There"
3 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "Once upon a time, back in those long-ago days before cable and the various home video delivery systems, Walt Disney Studios had an ingenious method for maximizing their library of films for maximums profits by rereleasing their classic animated films every seven years or so for new generations of moviegoers to enjoy. This lasted well into the VHS era but by the early 90s, this particular approach had pretty much run its course from a financial standpoint. Never one to leave a corporate asset alone when there is the possibility of squeezing an extra few hundred million dollars or so, Disney Studios has established a cottage industry of late in taking many of the best-known titles from its long legacy of animated film classics and remaking them in live-action with flesh-and-blood actors and elaborate CGI effects being deployed to retrace the originals. So far, we have seen new versions of the likes of “101 Dalmatians,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Maleficent” (in which we learned the backstory of what made the villain of “Sleeping Beauty” so upset in the first place), “Cinderella” and “The Jungle Book” and over the next few years, we will also get to see new takes on the likes of “Mulan,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” “The Lion King,” a “101 Dalmatians” prequel giving a “Maleficent”-style look at what made Cruella de Ville the monster that she became (which I guess means that it ends with Emma Stone discovering the joy of killing cute animals, which seems a tad bleak for the Happy Meal set) and, perhaps stupidest of all, a new take on “Dumbo” directed by Tim Burton, whose soulless version of “Alice in Wonderland” remains the single worst film of his entire career." (more)
"Office Face-Off"
1 stars
Peter Sobczynski says... "There will almost certainly be worse movies released in 2017 than “The Belko Experiment”—there are new installments in the “Transformers” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchises on the way, after all—but they would be hard-pressed to fill me with as much sheer dislike as it has. A brainless bloodbath that is all the worse because it seems to think that it is far smarter and cleverer than it actually is, the ghastly blend of spurting gore, half-assed stabs at social satire, characters that would require at least a dozen page one rewrites to eventually reach the status of paper-thin and a dim worldview of anyplace not located within the continental United States, this film seems to exist only to answer the unasked question “What would “Office Space” have been like in the hands of Eli Roth?”" (more)
"Ghosts in the Machine"
3 stars
alejandroariera says... "I am still ambivalent about Olivier Assayas’ “Personal Shopper” weeks after seeing it at a word-of-mouth screening. It’s a frustrating film that addresses too many ideas and genres without fully developing them. It’s a ghost movie that veers into slasher territory; it is also about living in a brand-obsessed world, one where communication is only achieved through our digital devices and where artifice and materialism are at odds with spirituality. “Personal Shopper” is also emotionally empty, an intellectual exercise that never quite manages to fully excite our little grey cells." (more)
"Corporate Media: all the news they're paid to print"
3 stars
Greg Ursic says... "If a journalist broke a story about a recently discovered mass grave containing the bones of 200 unidentified victims, your first instinct would be that they were covering unfolding events in an area taken back from ISIL or somewhere in Syria. But how would you feel upon learning that the gravesite was in Texas, the dead were Mexican immigrants who died on US soil and there had been no coverage in the mainstream media. Welcome to the wonderful world of corporate news, where “If it bleeds it leads” has been replaced by infotainment and government pandering." (more)
"Makoto Shinkai's big breakthrough in Japan should be a big deal everywhere."
5 stars
Jay Seaver says... "Last summer, some friends and I were talking about how certain great, much-beloved Japanese animators were retiring and leaving a void that the up-and-coming talents didn’t quite seem to be filling, at least as we saw it from America, lamenting the situation until it became clear that we didn’t know what we were talking about: Roughly a week later, stories started showing up about an animated movie that was a massive hit, breaking box office records in Japan, and it was weirdly gratifying as a fan to see that it was the latest from Makoto Shinkai, someone who has continually impressed since making the brilliant 20-minute short “Voices from a Distant Sky” solo on his laptop. "Your Name" will probably not achieve the same tremendous popularity abroad that it did in its native land - both its eccentricities and its broad appeal are rather specifically Japanese - but it’s still a fine film as well as a must-see for lovers of animation." (more)
"A samruai comedy of some interest."
4 stars
Jay Seaver says... "There’s a thread running through many of director Yoshihiro Nakamura’s best films that makes them leave an even better impression than they might, an often-upbeat ability to find power in community. Think of the seemingly-disconnected threads that come together in "Fish Story", or the friendships that rescue a framed fugitive in "Golden Slumbers", stories where connection is not so much the lesson that the protagonist must learn but the force which determines whether people will thrive or not. "The Magnificent Nine" is likely his most literal presentation of this idea, a friendly primer on what people can accomplish working together." (more)

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